The agricultural sector provides a solid backbone to the economy. In the achievement and sustenance of food security and food sufficiency in the country, it is worthy to note that our gallant farmers are deservedly appreciated and recognized for their hard work.

The immense role women play in the agricultural value chain is also worthy of note. It is therefore a great feat when we have a woman being adjudged the NATIONAL BEST FARMER.

57-year-old MADAM CHARITY AKORTIA from the Agona West Municipality in the Central Region was
crowned as the National Best Farmer for 2023. For her prize, Charity Akortia received a cash prize of
GH¢1million sponsored by the Agriculture Development Bank.

Theophilus Ezenrane Ackah from the Western Region was adjudged the first runner-up. He took home a high horsepower tractor head, trailer, a set of implements, and a boom sprayer. His prize was sponsored by the Ghana Exim Bank.

The second runner-up award was taken by Kwaku Yeboah Asumah from the Bono East Region. His prize was an MF tractor head, trailer, and set of implements. This was sponsored by Stanbic Bank.

The awardees were honoured at the 39th National Farmers Day Celebration Awards Night held at the University of Mines and Technology Auditorium at Tarkwa in the Western Region on Friday, December
1, 2023.

Remarkably, a woman has been recognized for this enviable feat. The Ghanaian News Canada
got the opportunity for an exclusive interview with Madam Charity Akortia. What follows is an insightful
conversation with Russell Quarcoo, of Ghanaian News Canada

Ghanaian News Canada: Congratulations! How does it feel to be adjudged the NATIONAL BEST FARMER?

Madam Charity Akortia: I was so delighted and grateful.

Ghanaian News Canada: Briefly tell us about your background and how you ventured into agriculture.

Madam Charity Akortia: I am from Peki in the Volta region. A child raised in a farming home. During secondary school, I worked at the then-Peki settlement farm to get funds to support my education. In addition, I was also engaging in small Okro farms on weekends during the season to support my education. So after college training, I decided to enter into vegetable production, that is raising local vegetables for sale until I met a PPR (Plant Protection Regulation) officer of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Mr Ramson Cotto who introduced me to seed production. Fortunately, my husband Mr John Amenu is also into Agriculture, and as a result, gave me a lot of technical advice. Due to the passion and financial returns I was earning that were far above what I was earning in terms of salary as a teacher, I finally decided to venture fully into agriculture as a business.

Ghanaian News Canada: What motivated you into farming?

Madam Charity Akortia: Well primarily I would say it was basically because the financial returns were rewarding. And that made me decide to fully take it up as a business. Let me also add that, when I was a child I accompanied and assisted my parents to the farm. So I would say the desire for the farm started early on when I was a child and it has not left me since. So growing up I realized that when I venture into farming full time, I can employ the youth who are unemployed to work on my farm or to support fellow women. Additionally, the commonly held perception was that farming was the preserve of men so I decided to challenge myself to venture into farming commercially as a woman.

Ghanaian News Canada: Before your significant transition as CEO of Greenworth Farms, what were
some of the challenges that affected your farming experience from the onset?

Madam Charity Akortia: Ah…Well, there were a lot of challenges, but I can only mention a few of
them. The first is the issue of land acquisition. How to get land to start the work. Secondly, there is the issue of not getting any form of financial support or access to funds in the form of loans as a peasant farmer. Then there is also the non-availability of inputs, like seeds, which is another problem. In addition to these challenges, it was also difficult to get good human resources by way of trusted employees to work on the farm. As a result, there were incidences of theft and this among other issues made it quite challenging. Also, there was the issue of irrigation that we had to access to irrigate the crops. How did I make a headway? First, with the issue of land, I would say my farms are scattered in all places so to speak. To wit, wherever I get the land and it’s suitable and the price is negotiable, I acquire it. Therefore to start with I had 15 acres of land, 10 acres, and 2 acres until I had a large acreage of land making overall enterprise quite difficult.

Also regarding the financial challenge, what I did was I started the vegetable business to reinvest the
returns because the financial institutions were not ready to support a peasant farmer. Then again concerning the human resource challenge, sometimes I had to go as far as Burkina Faso to get labourers because they are somehow more trusted than the local farm hands. I also get a few hands as leaders or foremen to supervise the work. This eventually made the work a bit easier as compared to how I started initially at which time they took money, no work was done, and I had to spend precious time chasing them all over. But with this strategy the whole operation became manageable.

Overcoming the problem of theft, what my workers did was to organize themselves and watch overnight on the farms. You know at Agona here in the central region, Thursdays are market days and those are the days the thieves go to the farms to steal the farm produce to go and sell on the market. So we organised checkups at the farm gate and that significantly reduced the incidence of thievery to a very low level.

Improvising to irrigate the crops, what we did was to have hand-dug wells on the farms to irrigate the crops. Unfortunately, we realized the water in some places was salty, thus we had to organize for water tankers to bring water from nearby water bodies to the farms to water the crops and also be able to perform other tasks like spraying pesticides to protect the crops before harvest. This was how I managed those challenges at the onset.

Ghanaian News Canada: Your farm is diversified, tell us how you coordinate affairs on all the
various crops and animal husbandry that you do?

Madam Charity Akortia: What I do is, I have employees in charge of the various farms who report daily to the General supervisor, who reports to me on a daily and weekly basis. I also have a financial secretary who is basically in charge of all finance matters, that is payment of salaries, statutory payments like SSNIT etc. We have an Excel spreadsheet for reporting, that makes it easier to track progress and also monitor
and forecast management activities on the various farms. Members of my family are involved. My husband is a strong pillar. He assists in coordinating and monitoring affairs on the various farms. My daughter is into processing, my son also handles bookkeeping, Accounts and Finance. So without the support of my family. It would have been very difficult for me.

Ghanaian News Canada: You are a pillar in your community. Please tell us some of the CSR
support activities you engage in to help the community.

Madam Charity Akortia: Yes, eerm. I provide local vegetable seeds and seedlings, that is pepper,
garden eggs and maize to markets around my area and also beyond to other districts. I also engage
women in training on best farming practices and agro-processing periodically. I also support schools
with learning materials like books, pens and eggs to augment their protein needs. I also donate food items to the needy especially widows in the community. In addition to that, I also support Osamkrom prison camp inmates with food items. Last year for instance I registered 72 inmates on the National Health Insurance scheme. That’s not all, I also donated 600 exercise books to Nsuamyem Basic School. In the year 2020, I made hand-dug wells for communities that experienced water crisis in Mensakrom where some of my farms were located.

Ghanaian News Canada: What will be your advice to anyone who wants to venture into farming?

Madam Charity Akortia: First I would say that they shouldn’t see it as a punishment as it’s perceived
especially by the youth. They should see it as a viable business venture. One in which if one is dedicated and prudent it will eventually yield benefits. One needs to identify the interest, consult the Ministry of Food & Agriculture, look for a market, and start operation and they will surely make it.

Ghanaian News Canada: With regards to policy and the role of women, what will you from experience advise the government to do to ease the drudgery and suffering of women in agriculture?

Madam Charity Akortia: Women should have equal and quality agricultural training or education.
There should be training programs on modern trends and technology in agriculture. The government
should provide suitable access to resources to women. The government should connect women in
agriculture to women leaders who can mentor, inspire them and also monitor their progress. Women
should be recognized and celebrated just as it was done for me as an inspiration and motivation to
other women. Women should have specific measures that are tailored to meet their peculiar needs
and finally, gender biases and stereotypes that limit women from engaging in agriculture must be

Ghanaian News Canada: What message do you want to deliver to all stakeholders?

Madam Charity Akortia: Well stakeholders must be engaged to contribute to the planning of efficient
agricultural policies in the country to enhance the implementation of sustainable farming practices.
Stakeholders in agriculture must work together to achieve common goals in agriculture by engaging
with each other through dialogue, collaboration and education.

Final Comments and Appreciation

Madam Charity Akortia: I would like to use this platform to thank the government and MOFA, that is, the
ministry for recognizing my efforts all these years. I would also like to thank my family for their profound
support and hard work throughout these years. Finally, I would also like to thank my able farm workers,
without them I could not have achieved this remarkable feat. And all those who wish to go into agriculture, especially women, I say with hard work, determination, and dedication a lot can be achieved
from farming.

I entreat all who wish to do business with me to look for Greenworth farms and contact our sales points. Thank you all.

Source: Russell Quarcoo, Ghana

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